Listen up, Budget Committee! Toronto residents need investments to build an affordable, livable city.

From our work with resident leaders, community organizations and groups, and our budget coalition partners, and from our own analyses of the City budget, we've compiled key messages to support you in drafting your deputations to the Budget Committee on the 2024 City of Toronto Budget. Please use what is useful to you and leave what is not. Please also check out yesterday’s blog post for links to more analysis from our partners and our Budget Town Hall.

Toronto is Facing a Crisis of Poverty Like Never Before

While this year’s budget includes important investments in critical services, Toronto needs more. Toronto residents are struggling with affordability at alarming rates, and housing, transit, community services, and key infrastructure need deeper investments in order to keep people housed, sheltered, and thriving. Some stats:

  • 1 in 10 Torontonians are now relying on food banks, twice as many as last year. Daily Bread has seen a 154% increase in food bank clients this year, 52% of whom are employed (
  • On any given night there are over 10,000 people who need a place to sleep. This will no doubt result in the deaths this winter of some of our most vulnerable residents.

Investments in Critical Services are Needed and Welcome

While these crises cannot be addressed overnight, we have seen some significant gains and some positive changes with the 2024 budget, including:

  • Improved public engagement, including the opportunities to engage prior to the budget launch back in November and the telephone town halls after the budget launch;
  • Taking a long view — the 2024 budget is part of a Long-Term Financial Plan that was finally approved by City Council last year, with tough decisions being seriously considered including new/enhanced revenue tools and property tax increases;
  • The City of Toronto's proposed budget for 2024 promises no significant service cuts and significant new investments ($152 in new spending) towards critical community services including shelter and housing, long-term care, public libraries, public transit, climate action, community crisis response, and paramedic and fire services. 

City Council Needs to Make Responsible Decisions to Fix Our Crumbling City   

After years of austerity budgets that prioritized low property taxes above all else, we see the City ready to step up with an increase in property taxes so that city services more closely meet the needs of Toronto’s residents. 

  • The decision of past Mayors and Councils to prioritize low property taxes has contributed substantially to the deterioration of our city and the multiple crises we witness in our neighbourhoods and communities every day. The proposed property tax increase in this year’s budget is an important step to raise revenues to support critical community services and infrastructure and to realistically begin to address the City’s financial challenges. 
  • Investments in City services provide good value for money. For the average homeowner, less than the cost of a Tim Horton’s coffee a day will get us faster TTC service, a guarantee our fares won’t go up, more affordable housing and shelter spaces, ongoing free or low-cost community and recreation programs, increased public library hours, and poverty prevention (which saves money on health care and other costs and contributes to healthier, thriving neighbourhoods). See yesterday’s blog post here for more talking points in support of the property tax increase.

Toronto Residents are Struggling and Need More Investments

As Torontonians face inflation, rising rents, and a lack of affordable housing, they need additional support to stay housed and fed. Frontline organizations and their staff are struggling to respond to community needs amid high demand and historically low wages. Slow and inaccessible transit service, extreme weather, and climate change are also making this city unlivable. We would like to see enhancements in this year’s budget that address these issues, such as:

  • Increased investments to keep people housed — including the Rent Bank and Eviction Prevention in the Community (EPIC), as well as more outreach/housing support staff to ensure these programs are being used
  • Increased investments in the number of by-law officers as part of the RentSafe program to ensure rental units meet basic standards
  • Increased investments for MURA (Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition program) to protect/prevent loss of affordable units
  • Increase the number of RGI subsidies to create additional access to affordable units
  • Increased investments in the shelter system and drop-in network, and to ensure the City’s Winter Plan for shelters can accommodate increases in capacity 
  • Fund and build the Scarborough busway 
  • Expand the Fair Pass program to include eligibility for more (not fewer) users, and further discount the costs for Fair Pass users (see TTCRiders’ analysis for more on transit)
  • Increased investments so the City can meet its environmental goals, including Toronto’s climate goal of reaching Net Zero by 2040 (see Toronto Environmental Alliance’s analysis for more on environment and climate)
  • Increase the CPIP (Community Partnership and Investment Program) inflationary increase to match City Finance’s reports on inflation (4.2%) and increase the overall funding level to CPIP to address the growth in demand for services and to further expand supports for Indigenous-led and Black-mandated organizations
  • Increase investments for Indigenous organizations and groups, and enhancements in the budget that ramp up the City’s work on reconciliation and supporting Indigenous residents who are over-represented amongst those living outside and living in poverty, including a portion of property tax made available for Indigenous communities
  • Expand the Fair Wage policy to include staff that are subcontracted by the City through nonprofits to deliver services such as child care centres, drop-ins, shelters, and affordable housing providers.

Equity Means Listening Most Closely to Those Most Impacted by Unequal Systems

Finally, Social Planning Toronto, along with many of our community partners, hosted pre-budget consultation sessions with residents, many of them from low-income and racialized neighbourhoods. You can read more about what we heard in an upcoming City Budget Watch post and here in our last post. What these pre-budget consultations illustrate is the importance of shaping budget priorities based on the needs of equity deserving communities if we want to build a just and caring city. 

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